2021 should be a big year for legal sports betting in the United States, as sports-betting proliferation continues across the country. Several states have joined the legal sports betting community in the past few months. Along with the continuing growth, revenues continue to climb, according to January 2021 figures.
New information regarding state-by-state progress and success with legal sports betting emerges just about every day. Yes, there are still 30+ states without legal sports betting for the time being. However, many of those states are moving toward some sort of foothold on their untapped markets.
For now, let’s target a trio of key Midwest states.
Kansas Drawing Closer to Legal Sports Betting
Legal Sports Betting Could Bring a Substantial Economic Boost to Kansas
Lawmakers in the state of Kansas agree that sports betting would open abundant revenue streams. However, they have been unable to clear the way for legalizing wagers on live sporting events.
There is a new push, however. That push could result in Kansans being able to finally bet on their Kansas City Chiefs, Kansas Jayhawks and more.
The Kansas Lottery provided a tantalizing prediction: As much as $600 million in bets could be placed annually.
A story in the Topeka Capital-Journal quoted one gaming exec who sees the opportunity.
"We believe legal sports betting has the potential to provide a meaningful shot in the arm to Kansas’s gaming industry and to provide a new revenue stream to the state of Kansas,” said Penn National Gaming lobbyist Jeff Morris. Penn National Gaming runs Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway in Wyandotte County.
Kansas Senate Considers Betting Bill
The Kansas Senate is considering State Senate Bill 84, which was introduced at the end of January. That bill appears to have big-time support.
Inevitably, the process suffers a slowdown as more entities demand a slice of the pie. That situation could be occurring this week. Some of that opposition was formally presented during a hearing of State Senate Bill 84.
Competing proposals in the House and Senate will have to be settled.
The Senate bill allows casinos more authority. With that bill, the Kansas Lottery would be able to negotiate sports betting deals with the state's four gaming facilities. Under the House bill, convenience stores and/or retailers who sell lottery tickets could participate in sports betting. Those offerings would be simple wagers on the outcome of games.
The state would see more in revenue under the House proposal.
From the Topeka Capital-Journal story: “The Senate bill would mean a cut to the state of either 7.5% or 10% of all revenues, depending on if bets were placed online or at a physical sportsbook. In the House bill, that percentage is higher, with the state getting 14% or 22%, respectively.”
Kansas has the momentum but seems likely to spend quite a bit of time on the road to legalization. It feels like legal sports betting in Kansas is a certainty at this point. But a final decision could take a while to come.
Iowa Posting Big Betting Gains
Iowans have embraced sports betting since the 2019 legislation in the state ushered in the legal sports betting era.
The state continued to tinker with guidelines and restrictions, opening the door for a huge revenue increase.
Since Jan. 1, proof of age and identity have been enough for any Iowan 21 years and older to register for a mobile wagering account. However, bettors are not required to appear in person. In 2019 and 2020, bettors had to register in person at a casino to place a wager via mobile app.
Latest Figures Show Monthly and Annual Revenue Increases
The 2020 Super Bowl featuring the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers took in $6.5 million on the game. That is according to Iowa Gaming Association president and CEO Wes Ehrecke.
That figure took a big jump this year. According to the IGA, more than $16.3 million in wagers was placed on Super Bowl 55 between the Kansas City Chiefs-Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
More adjustments are coming, thanks to House Study Bill 200, which was introduced last Wednesday. The two takeaways from this are the addition of eSports to be wagered within Iowa.
HSB200, now in subcommittee hearings, also would allow betting on sports-related events (“an event that takes place in relation to an authorized sporting event, but that is not tied to the outcome of a specific athletic event or contest as authorized by the commission”). Examples of those events are the NFL Draft or individual futures wagers including MVP.
Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission numbers show that there was more than $149.5 million in wagers placed statewide last month. $104.8 million was wagered in December, so last month’s numbers represented a significant improvement.
Mobile betting was key, with $120.8 million of wagers paced on mobile devices in January. In December, that figure was $78.1 million.
Sports Betting Rolls On in Indiana
As was the case in Iowa, an upward trend also occurred in Indiana.
Indiana sportsbooks established new handle and revenue figures last month, with Hoosier State bettors wagering $348.2 million in January, according to the state’s revenue report.
January’s figure tops December’s mark of $313.1 million.
PlayIndiana.com, citing state data, said January wagering totals marked five straight months of record betting.
“This will be a particularly important year for Indiana’s sports betting industry,” PlayIndiana.com analyst Jessica Welman said in a Northwest Indiana Business Magazine story.
“Illinois and Michigan, which were two feeder markets in the early days of sports betting in Indiana, will continue to grow and Ohio is moving toward regulating sports betting, too, so sportsbooks will increasingly have to rely on in-state bettors, (with) that said, the market continues to prove more than capable of standing on its own.”